George on track for Smart City with new Smart Water Meters
Celebrating the first 2000 Smart Ultrasonic Water Meters to be installed are from left Dhasi Naidoo, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer Ontec Systems; Charles Jackson, Senior Manager Operations Ontec Systems; Deon De Jager, Deputy Director Water and Sanitation, Civil Engineering Services; Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk; Jacobus Lane, Assistant Supervisor Water Networks, Civil Engineering Services; Browen Johnson, Portfolio Councillor Civil Engineering Services; Pieter Erasmus, Associate Specialist, Zutari,; Petrus van Heerden, Regional Manager Africa Kamstrup; Ithriam Leukes, Business Development Manager Ontec Systems; Sumeshin Naidoo, CEO Sigfox South Africa; Mark Wearing, Operations Coordinator Ontec Systems; Niel Van Der Westhuizen, Civil Technologist, Zutari and Riaan van Jaarsveld, Business Development Manager Ontec Systems.
Striving towards the goal of becoming a Smart City the George Municipality has embarked on an initiative to drastically improve customer service delivery and revenue collection while reducing the overall revenue and non-revenue associated with water losses. New smart ultrasonic water meters will be installed throughout George over a period of three to four years.
The first 2000 meters are expected to be installed by early April this year and the initial areas include Blanco, Heather park, Dormehlsdrift and George South. Approximately 10 000 meters will be installed initially with an engineering consultant firm (Zutari) appointed to assist with the process and certify each smart water meter following installation.
Council agreed on a strategy to address ageing infrastructure and this included addressing water leaks and meter readings. The tender for the project was awarded to Ontec Systems and will allow for the new, Kamstrup ultrasonic SMART water meters to be installed by replacing the existing meter, and at the same time provides an opportunity for various issues to be addressed by plumbing teams as they do the installations. Homeowners will be contacted by the installation teams should there be any issues regarding access to the existing meter in terms of its location.
The SMART meters are not pre-paid water meters and will not disconnect consumer’s water supply. Actual live consumption data is sent via a radio signal to the service provider Sigfox South Africa and the municipality can access the Ontec Pyxis Platform webpage with the live data per meter. Chief Strategy Officer for Ontec, Dhasi Naidoo says “these SMART water meters enable a multitude of benefits for both George Municipality and it’s citizens by automating its meter reading and billing cycle, providing daily consumption monitoring, trend analysis, leak and burst alarm notifications for consumers to better control and manage their water consumption. It will also enable George Municipality with additional operational capabilities for faster reaction to water losses and holistic water usage management.” The technology enables the municipality to construct a complete overview of water production, distributed and consumed to accurately identify and remedy leakages to limit water losses.
Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk applauded the use of new technology to simplify municipal processes at a meet and greet yesterday, 14 March 2023, with the full team of service providers linked to this ambitious project. “We are banking on this new meter to simplify the process of meter reading and to increase accuracy. Considering water is our most precious and scarce resource, these Smart Water meters can add immense value in terms of water theft and abuse management through early IT notifications and alerts, and with no moving parts have an expected 15-year constant accuracy lifespan. George continues to lead by example with this project and it is one more step towards achieving the goal of George being a Smart City.”
Challenges experienced by the George Municipality in the past with the original meters include unreliable billing data, infrequent and inconsistent account invoices and delivery, extended collection cycles and debit accumulation, inaccurate reporting of household’s consumption, vandalism, no access, excessive leaking and wastages, and the reporting process for faulty water meters and account queries will become a thing of the past.
As a resident you benefit from this technology as well – you can receive daily water meter readings of your actual household water consumption directly on your cellphone giving you the ability to monitor and control your households water consumption. The early leak alarm warning saves on water waste and the accompanying financial penalties as you can set your usage threshold on a daily and monthly basis to prevent any billing surprises. The near real-time consumption allows you to understand exactly where and when you are using water.
As the resident you will receive high usage warnings via SMS and Email enabling you to act immediately. Residents will have access to the My George Home Page http://george.ontec.co.za track their own daily water consumption, respond to leakage alerts and manage multiple meters in one space.